Death of the Album?


Being born in 1970 I have had the experience of purchasing recorded music in many different forms. As a child my Dad had boxes of vinyl LP records and as a boy I remember buying my first record it was Shaun Cassidy (cmon I was 6 years old and he was a Hardy Boy!). I remember sitting at my cousin’s house listening to his KISS records, looking at the album covers, reading the liner notes and getting lost in the music.

When I was 12 years old (1982), Santa brought me a stereo for my bedroom. A double cassette deck with removable speakers I was now able to start my own musical collection. Soon all my disposable income was spent on Saturday afternoons at the record store and my METAL cassette collection grew. My Sony Walkman allowed me to carry and listen to my music anywhere.

My Uncle was one of those “early adapters” and when CD players started appear he purchased one with 2 CD’s. I will never forget being at his house when he hooked it up to his really nice stereo and blasted ZZ Top’s “Afterburner” album. The sound was so clear I was blown away and knew I had to start saving to join this new musical wave. It took many years and many dollars to switch my music collection over to CD’s.

When the Ipod/Mp3 craze took off I was a little skeptical but after seeing the benefits and the mobility I can’t imagine a day without my IPod. I have purchased “albums” (funny how we still call them albums) from Itunes but as I watch my daughter and her friends and how the new generation is buying their music, I watch with a little sadness. Let me explain…

First, they miss out on the whole “social” aspect of going to the record store. I can remember me and my buddies walking downtown and spending the better part of the day deciding on what treasure we were going to take home. In fact I can distinctly recall the day I raced to the record store when KISS had just released “Asylum”. Racing home with my friends and all of us sitting in my living room as the opening drum beats to “King of the Mountain” filled our ears.

Secondly, they purchase the one or two songs they want from each artist (usually the one or two that the radio is playing to death!) and move on. To me it’s  like buying a book and only reading the first three chapters?!? They never get to hear the deep cuts and it seems that because of this they rarely latch on to a “favourite” Band just a bunch of “favourite” songs that change from month to month.

I understand there is no stopping technology and I certainly love being able to carry 4000 songs with me on a device that is smaller than my watch. That said I am glad that I grew up being able to appreciate the full experience of a new “album”. Saturday afternoon, eyes closed listening to an album from start to finish. Finding out that the “single” on the radio is probably one of the weaker songs. Learning to love your favourite bands for their strengths and accepting their flaws and then eagerly waiting until they release another 10 songs for you to hear next year.

Who knows what will happen down the road? If people continue to only only buy one or two songs that they hear on the radio, how much longer will the artists and the record companies continue to release complete albums. It goes to reason that if 80 percent of the album is left un purchased 80 percent of the time, than how many dollars should be spent on recording these tracks? Supply and demand, with no demand it goes to reason that supply could cease to exist.

Just my two and a half cents, that I will save up to purchase a NEW ALBUM!

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